Friday, June 17, 2016

Why we fought the American Civil War

I've been reading Civil War in the Ozarks by Phillip W. Steele and Steve Cottrell. It's interesting, and I recommend it. If you read it, think about the parallels between that time and this one.

For instance, pretend you are a Missourian in 1861. Southern states, fed up with the controlling ways of the feds in Washington, D.C., are seceding. In response, good ole Honest Abe is calling for troops to invade the South. Your state governor, Claiborne Fox Jackson, calls the president's actions "illegal, unconstitutional and revolutionary."

Gov. Jackson appoints Sterling Price, a former Missouri governor and a general in the Mexican War, as the commander of the Missouri State Guard. Missouri appears to be getting ready to stand up to the feds, and the feds don't like that one little bit.

Nevertheless, there are attempts to reach a truce.

At a negotiation meeting in the Planter's House Hotel in St. Louis, Jackson and Price and other state leaders hear Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, representing the Federal government, stand up and say this:

"Rather than to concede to the state of Missouri for one single instant the
right to dictate to my government [the Federal government] in any matter however
unimportant, I would see you, and you, and you, and you, and you [pointing to
everyone in the room], and every man, woman, and child in the state dead and
buried." He then turned to Governor Jackson. "This means war. In an hour one of
my officers will call for you and conduct you out of my lines."

Well, so much for negotiations and truce-making on the part of the Federal government. The Federal military agent just hinted, rather obviously, that he'd rather kill everyone in Missouri than state government have any rights.

That's why the Civil War was fought. The states wanted to be true states, united but independent. The feds wanted the states to be provinces.

It took a lot of killing, but the feds got their way. Missouri, which wanted to be a sovereign state, became a province of the central government in Washington. And it remains so today.

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